Review: Kinky Boots at the Pittsburgh CLO

Our review team took in the CLO production of Kinky Boots this week. The show runs through the weekend. Some tickets still available.

Our reviews are from the perspective of a typical person. If that’s helpful to you, please check back or suggest other performances for us to explore.

We need the arts now more than ever. ~ Sue

Photo credit: CLO

Last night my musical loving friend, Sarah P, and I went to see Kinky Boots as part of the Pittsburgh CLO summer series. Kinky Boots will be in Pittsburgh from July 5 through July 10, 2022. Sarah P saw Kinky Boots with Billy Porter, which would have been an awesome experience. However, I do not want to take away from this version at all.

First, Harvey Fierstein wrote the book upon which this musical is based, and Cyndi Lauper, a favorite of all of us who were young in the 1980’s, wrote the music so already this musical had a solid foundation.

The musical is about a shoemaker, Charlie, who inherits a struggling company from his father. Charlie, played by Brian Sears, has a chance encounter with Lola, in this incarnation played by Darius Harper. This encounter leads us to the eventual remake of Charlie’s shoe company into a niche market serving a rather underserved market. The actors portraying Lola and Charlie are superb…their acting and singing were just outstanding. The other actors and characters, Don, Lauren, George, among them also gave memorable performances. 

The gist of this musical, without spoiling too much, is acceptance and empowerment. Don a gruff, hyper-masculine factory worker challenges Lola’s right to live as she wants. He challenges Lola to a boxing match not realizing that Lola can box. Lola lets him win and then challenges him to learn to accept other people. The takeaway is that accepting other people and allowing them to be themselves is the hardest thing to do. Also hard is learning from others who we perceive as different. 

This musical is, of course, about the LGBT community, and at the end, is filled with images of joy, friendship and family. The entire musical, really, was filled with joy and lessons on how we can live our lives to our fullest potential. Clichéd, I know, but something it never hurts to relearn.  

On a personal note, I was ambivalent about going last night. It was a Tuesday night, a “school night,” and I had a busy July 4th weekend. However, when I got there, and the musical began, I found myself enjoying every minute of it. I was also fortunate that Sarah P, managed to drive through hordes of Pirate’s fans to get us to the Benedum on time in one piece, and then managed to get back to my house without once having a jaywalking Pirate fan become attached to the grill of her truck (although this wasn’t for lack of trying on their part)! I am also fortunate that I have a good friend who enjoys musicals.         

I have enjoyed the two musicals I have seen in this series. I was not familiar with the last one we saw, The Drowsy Chaperone, but it was great too.  The CLO is a valuable asset in Pittsburgh, and it was good to see that Kinky Boots appeared to be well attended, if not sold out. There are three more musicals in this series, and I believe that Godspell is next.  


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